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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I love wines from Dunn, especially their Howell Mountain Cab. Since they have a wax seal, opening a bottle can be quite messy, especially the older vintages. The wax seal crumbles everywhere. Should you just put the corkscrew in and pull (regardless of the mess) or trim the wax before opening? Any advice would be much appreciated.

—R.B. Smith, Dallas

Dear R.B.,

Thank you for giving me an excuse to find out the answer to this! For years I've also struggled with the crumbly wax on these beauties. I asked Erin Dunn, and she suggested that you rotate the top of the bottle over a candle flame (or the burner of a gas stove) for 10 to 15 seconds. The object is to soften the wax to the consistency of cheese, not melt it into a runny mess. Then take a butter knife and scrape it off the bottle. Anyone got a lighter?

—Dr. Vinny

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